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This is a Mexican dish composed of chicken and a cooked green sauce made from pureed vegetables that's somewhat different from the usual - there's a tang and a crunch and a bit of a bite and it isn't a runny goo. In fact, most of the recipe is about making the sauce, which uses some of the broth left over from boiling the chicken pieces. One could easily susbstitute prepared chicken broth and simply make the sauce to serve over whatever one wanted. A side benefit of this recipe is that one is left with a few cups of passable chicken broth to use for other purposes (like making more tomatillo sauce, for instance). There's plenty of time while the chicken is cooking to prepare the ingredients for the sauce. I like to serve this with steamed rice and extra sauce over the rice.

You'll need a food processor or blender.


3 lb. Chicken (cut-up whole chicken or just pieces, like thighs and breast tenders)
Boiling salted water
1/2 pound Tomatillos
1/2 bunch Cilantro
1 stalk Celery
1 cup coarsely chopped Green Onions (entire) - large-bulbed Mexican green onions preferred
1 small bunch Leaf Lettuce (Salad Bowl, Boston, etc.)
1/4 cup Sunflower seeds
3 canned Green Chiles (e.g. Anaheim or Serrano)
1/4 tsp. ground Cumin (Coriander Seed)
2 cloves fresh Garlic (minced or pressed) or 1/4 tsp. Garlic powder
1 tbsp. Butter or Margarine
Salt to tatste


Boil the chicken pieces in salted water to cover for about 45 minutes. You will have left over broth even after making the sauce, so you can add a little pepper, celery, etc. if desired to round out the flavor of the broth. Just don't add spices that would make it non-Mexican; or do what you want. While the chicken is boiling, set out two bowls that would hold a couple or three quarts each. Remove the husks from the tomatillos and discard; rinse tomatillos. Chop larger tomatillos to fit easily in your food processor or blender. Place half of tomatillos in one bowl, half in the other. Divide cilantro evenly between the bowls. Coarsely chop the celery and distribute to bowls. Same with lettuce. Lay 1 1/2 green chile on each bowl.

Note: Typical canned green chiles are quite mild. If more spiciness is desired, adjust by adding a small jalapeno or yellow chile. An interesting variation is to use canned poblano chiles instead - these are a bit hotter than serranos but not as hot as jalapenos, and their red color does change the look of the sauce, but the smokiness they impart adds some depth to the overall flavor of the sauce.

When the chicken is done, remove to a casserole dish and keep warm (cover with aluminum foil and place in closed oven, for example), keeping the broth handy.

Place the entire contents of one of the veggie bowls into your food processor, sprinkle with 1/2 the sunflower seeds and process on high, adding about 3/4 cup of the broth and stopping to scrape the sides of the container periodically. The mixture should be a bit chunky, but roughly uniform. In a large skillet or the pot you boiled the chicken in, melt the butter, then add the garlic and cumin. Pour in the contents of the food processor. Process the remaining half of the veggies with another 3/4 cup of broth and add to the pan. Simmer sauce over a low heat for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. It will thicken somewhat; add more broth if it becomes too dry to flow when poured. Season sauce to taste with salt and serve over chicken pieces (and rice).

Serves 4-6 and you may well have sauce left over for other uses.

Adapted from 'The Los Angeles Times California Cookbook', New American Library, 1981

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